The UPside of Permitting

by Tim Schrock 0 comments


Yesterday, I spent some time helping a friend who was in a pickle. Four years ago he renovated his garage into living space. Fast forward to today, he's trying to sell his house, and the buyer's lender wanted to make sure that the renovation was done correctly. Thankfully, the days of swearing on your mother's grave that all work is safe and completed to code are almost exterminated, but my friend didn't get a permit for the renovation at the time. Thus, I found myself with my friend's Realtor at the building department trying to figure out how to get a permit, ex post facto.

permit application

Permit Application

This brought up an interesting discussion with the inspector. I understand that most people see permits as another form of taxation or government intrusion. However, in this case, it actually is holding my the sale of my friend's home because the lender wants to make certain that the asset their lending for 1) won't fall in or burn down, and 2), can be sold with the renovation if the buyer defaults. Another hidden benefit of permitting is home insurance rates. In the not too distant past, the city of Indianapolis was struggling to get inspectors to key phases in residential construction. You know, things like making sure footings were correct; structure was properly specified and fastened properly; and there were no electrical or plumbing problems. If the contractor called for an inspection at any of these phases, the understanding was that they only had to wait 24 hours, and if an inspector did not appear, they could continue with their work. So, you guessed it, not all projects were built to code, and some of them failed, because, at the end of the project, the contractors only needed to mail a little postcard to the city basically swearing that they built the project to code. These poor inspection practices - and the results thereof - caught the attention of the insurance rating board and Indianapolis received a poor rating. This drove homeowners' insurance higher. Enter a new sheriff in town, who cleaned things up, categorized permitting much better, and, yes, raised some permit fees. Of course, raised fees didn't set well with some folk, but the fees went to hire a couple dozen more inspectors and installed an inspection review/dispatch system that keeps those inspectors efficient and completing almost 100% of the required inspections. Once again, the inspection practices caught the attention of the insurance rating board and Indianapolis received a high rating. Homeowner's insurance premiums went down. Wouldn't you rather have a higher one-time permit fee, and the benefit of lower annual premiums for the rest of your life? Oh! My friend? In order to get an inspection and thus a Certificate of Occupancy, he'll have to apply for a permit, remove a good amount of drywall, fix some issues with the gas-fired water heater which is now in a living space, request an inspection, patch it all up (assuming he's done all the work to code), paint it, and then, his buyer can get a loan.

Inexpensive home options

by Tim Schrock 0 comments


A recent client in West Central, Indiana desired to build a home inexpensively and chose the option of building a post frame structure for their home, but the building supplier did not have the ability to show them how the interior of the structure could be finished. Thus they came to us.

The owners had done much research and planning, but still needed some help and advice on code, layout, and window/door arrangement. After two meetings with us, the owners approved the layout, and we immediately began creating the construction documentation for their home. This is the sketchfab model we shared with them after our initial online design presentation. If post frame construction is a possibility for your future, contact us to see how we can help you, too, understand your project before you build it.

Do You Want a Fixer Upper?

by Tim Schrock 0 comments

Communication Design/Build Remodeling

So many of us are into HGTV's shows, and lately, I've been obsessed with Chip & Joanna Gaines on HGTV's Fixer Upper. Have you ever thought, "I wish I could get into a house and have the beauty that they show AND have instant equity"? Have you ever wondered why they buy a house, and then find the problems? Have you had those thoughts and then put them out of your mind because you know a TV crew isn't going to show up in your driveway and you figure remodeling won't turn out that easy? Seriously, you CAN experience this for yourself...just without the TV crew.  

3D X-ray for Preservation

by Tim Schrock 0 comments


Old barn

Rendering of the existing conditions of an old barn

A recent project for one of our clients was a fun project for a couple of reasons. Two reasons are that they are restoring an old structure, and the other is that the structure isn't our typical home. In fact, it's not a home at all: it's a barn. Knowing that the barn needed much structural care, our client, Hudson Valley Preservation, contracted with the barn's owner to create a 3D x-ray of the structure. The team spent quite a bit of time measuring the existing conditions, taking pictures, and communicating some serious details to us. Because of this work, we were able to create these interactive models.  

Modern Farmhouse update

by Tim Schrock 0 comments

Design Design/Build Remodeling

Last year, a homeowner agreed that the design/build process was best for their upcoming addition and remodeling project. Their contractor, Schrier Contracting, LLC, knew that their satisfaction would be increased if they were included intimately in the design process of their project. Their list was quite succinct:

  • 2-car garage addition
  • laundry room/storage
  • home office
  • kitchen remodel
  • and, more light in living space
In addition to this, they wanted the project to fit with the existing style and look of their home, AND, they wanted to keep the project within their financial goals as well.

Check for more project info on their Farmhouse Addition project page

Based upon the results of their project, and their happy faces, the design and construction of their project definitely met their expectations. Here are a couple of photos of their new kitchen.   Project built by Schrier Contracting, LLC and designed in collaboration with Design Solutions, Inc.

Apples and Oranges

by Tim Schrock 0 comments

Communication Design/Build

We all know the analogy of comparing apples and oranges, and throughout our lives, we strive to decipher the differences that we see between products, companies, services, and experiences so that we know best which one to choose. In the end, the goal is to compare apples to apples, or oranges to oranges. We do this in the produce isle all the time, right? If apples are 99 cents each, we compare one apple to another and choose the largest because it's the best price for the amount of apple we get to eat.

We want and need to compare services, but the question is how to do so

When comparing services, it is hard to know when we have truly compared apples to apples. For instance, we tend to assume that two computers will operate the same when they have the same specs. But we now know that there are some brands that don't hold up in the long run, and too often, we choose the less expensive option and end up paying the price in the end either by frustration or purchase of a replacement, or both.  

Communication is key to a good remodeling project

by Tim Schrock 0 comments

Communication Design Design/Build

Master Suite addition, exterior

Master Suite addition, exterior

Over the years, we've had the pleasure of working with hundreds of clients with dozens of contractors. The sad projects are the ones that we've been asked to rescue: those projects where the original architect/designer messed things up so horribly, that the owner fired them, and hired us. These are sad because it could have been so much better the first time around. The main complaint with these projects, and any project we've seen that goes awry, is a huge lack of communication.  

Homeowners control the design process

by Tim Schrock 0 comments

Communication Design Design/Build

Every new project is exciting for us to begin as each is a new challenge to design an attractive building. But each project also brings the opportunity to work with a new set of tastes, needs, desires, and limits. This project did not disappoint. The description for this new construction home was re-iterated several times to us to have a large, open area family space. Other than that, the owners wanted 3 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, home office and full basement.

This is where the beauty of the design/build process works so wonderfully.  

Kitchen renovation increases space without adding

by Tim Schrock 2 comments

Design Remodeling

How can you increase the space without adding to the footprint? Oh the fun tricks of being a remodeling designer! Really, the trick isn't that tricky. You want to know the secret? Remove the inefficiencies of the traffic pattern. It's that simple. Ah, but that's also tricky. The other trick is...  

Planning is critical

by Tim Schrock 0 comments

Design/Build Fun Remodeling

You've heard the adage "plan your work, work your plan" right? Sometimes, one should just "go with their gut" and do something, but I don't think that should apply to remodeling or building in most cases; especially if you are doing structural alterations. I've heard of, and seen, too many projects where the plan was "Fire, Aim, Ready" and the project languished, and everyone was suffering because of it. Lately, we've had the opportunity to give a "master plan" type of service to several remodeling clients, and I wanted to share some of these ideas with you today. Two of the projects are residential, and one is a commercial project to build townhouses.